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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sixty Feet & The Cupcake Kids

Did we mention that Dan is going back to Uganda? Yep, in just a few weeks he's making a return trip with some of the other Sixty Feet guys and our wonderful family pediatrician, David Roe, who practices with Piedmont Pediatrics here in Atlanta.

Dan and the guys cannot wait to get back out there to serve and love the children of Mukisa -- honestly, it's been hard for him to stay away as long he has. They have many plans for this return trip and a lot of ground to cover in one week -- please pray for Dan, Michael, Matthew, Scott and Dr. Roe to accomplish much and walk in the works that God has prepared for them on this trip.

In preparation for the trip, The Crazy Cupcake Kids are back in action! This time they're hoping not just to raise money for Sixty Feet but also collect Bibles for the children of Mukisa. Dan and the gang will hand deliver the Bibles to the children in Uganda next month. If you're local (and maybe even if you're not!) please come out and support us this weekend:

Who: The Cupcake Kids of Atlanta
What: Selling frozen treats, lemonade and, of course, cupcakes!! in support of Sixty Feet. They're also collecting new & gently used children's Bibles (we'd love for your children to write notes of encouragement, draw pictures, include favorite verses, etc to include with the Bibles)
When: This Saturday, June 26 10am-12 Noon
Where: Cochise Drive, Atlanta 30339 (We'll be directly across the street from the Cochise Club in Vinings)

We hope to see you there!!
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekend In The Clouds

In his new book "Radical," David Platt argues that "the gospel does not prompt you to mere reflection; the gospel requires a response."

I used to think the Christian life was Bible study, a daily quiet time, regular prayer and weekly church attendance. Over the past year, the Lord has opened my eyes to show me that these things are not the Christian Life, but rather the means to the Christian life.  When I look back on my walk with the Lord, I know I've spent a whole lotta time reflecting but the responding... well, not so much.

Since Dan and I embarked on this Crazy Journey, I've been trying to change this tendency of mine to do this: I wake up early, sit on my couch, read my Bible (while feeling really good about myself because I actually dragged myself out of bed before the kids), feel really moved by a few psalms or whatever is on the daily reading list, offer up a few prayers and then go about my day like it never happened.

Now PUH-lease do not think you are reading a call from Shelly Owens to stop your quiet time! Not at all! If anything, I'm saying I should get up earlier, read longer passages, offer up way more prayers and above all else, make time to listen. Because the Christian life is both reflection and response. If I'm not spending time with Him, I can't respond to Him. And certainly I can't live this "crazy life" that I keep blogging about unless I'm spending daily, quality time with Him.

OK, all this to say that for the first time in 10 years of marriage, Dan and I went away this weekend just to pray. No agenda, no plans -- just a simple cabin the Georgia mountains, our Bibles, prayer journals and our baby (we can't leave her with the grandparents yet but she's a big sleeper so it's sort of like she's not there). We've made a lot of changes over the past couple of months and we may have many more to come. We needed time away from life, kids, noise and everything else to just go and be with Him. It was awesome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Wartime Mentality

My mom has always been good for an old saying or two. Most of them were things that she had picked up from her grandmother and consequently didn't seem to have much relevance for me. One saying in particular came from a famous World War II poster that urged Americans to "Use it up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without." I can imagine hearing this when I was younger and rolling my eyes. Now, however, it rings with much more significance. As our family attempts to Do Without some things, we are forcing ourselves to Make Do.

It is ironic, I suppose, that we have been telling our children this very thing for years now. Whenever one of them has had an issue that we couldn't deal with at the moment, we would say "Well, you'll just have to make do." For context, imagine we are walking into church and someone suddenly feels they are hungry and quite possibly might cease to exist before we reach the end of the parking lot. This is a classic 'Make Do' scenario. Usually preceded by this same person playing through breakfast rather than eating and suddenly, upon seeing the church in front of us, realizes they have at least a couple of hours before lunch and only a quart-size helping of Goldfish crackers that they will receive upon entering their Sunday School class to see them through. So now they are hungry, but we tell them they will have to just make do. Not sure how that translates in the mind of a 4 or 6 year old. Perhaps they think this means eat your shoes if necessary, but they have come to understand that further requests will similarly be denied.

Not sure why, but this reminds me of Jesus as he was telling his disciples how they should plan to head out into the world. He tells them in Matthew 10:9-10
9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff...

Basically he's telling them to make do. They themselves are the only equipment that he is requiring and the rest will, of course, be taken care of. As we learned recently in our family trip to the beach - a car full of stuff can be more trouble than it's worth. Pack light on life's journey, don't get distracted by the frivolous stuff, and keep focused on what's important. He'll take care of the important stuff.
Thursday, June 10, 2010

Goin' It Alone

Is it just me or do we Americans seem to have a major obession with self sufficiency? What is with our unwillingness or inability to ask for or accept help? There has been a lot of discussion in our small group around this topic lately and it's really gotten me to thinking... I wonder if this desire to be self sufficient is one of the major road blocks to living the "crazy" lifestyle.

Having less stuff and seeking to spend less money does dictate that you are probably going to have to reach out to others for help, or even just to borrow something from time to time. We Americans are kind of weird about that type of thing. For us, becoming a one-car family has required us, on a number of occasions, to reach out to friends for rides. In some situations we have simply had no other choice but to ask for help. And we make that sound like a shameful thing, but it has really been a good thing.

We have never had anyone unwilling to help and in fact, several of our friends have gone to great lengths and inconvenience to themselves in order to help us out. It's never been a problem for the helpers... so why the issue with asking?

Those times that we've needed and received help have worked out in really neat ways. Dan recently caught a ride with a friend to a meeting on the other side of town (in Atlanta the other side of town = not a scooter length ride) and the car ride gave the two men a chance to talk and catch up on Dan's recent trip to Uganda. I've reached out to a number of my mommy friends to arrange rides for the kids -- and I know that by asking these sweet ladies for help, I've made them feel comfortable to ask me for help should they find themselves in need (or should they find their husbands driving scooters...). A little dependence on one another can really draw you closer to people.

And this idea is not just for scooter-drivers. Recently, we took a family trip and while packing our stuff, realized that there was absolutely no way that all 5 of us, plus all our junk, plus all the baby stuff were fitting into one car. A brief pause to let that reality sink in completely... Our first reaction was to do that thing we usually do and just go out to the store and buy a luggage carrier for the top of the car. Self sufficiency, right? We can handle this! Well, several stores and a couple hours later, Dan returns home empty handed and announces that we are not buying a car carrier, they're way too expensive. And immediately the idea pops into my head... why not borrow one? Hello, what a crazy idea!! I shot off an email to a couple of friends and in less than an hour had several offers for luggage carriers. We saved $500 and, while loading the thing up on our car, Dan spent time and shared some laughs with another Dad from our daughter's school who he'd never met before.

One last thought on all this...

Just a few blocks outside of my neighborhood is a somewhat run-down apartment complex inhabited (pretty much 100% from what I can tell) by members of the hispanic community. I probably drive by the place 5 or 6 times a day. Every time I go by I feel a little sorry for the people who live there. Because of my mentality and the house, yard and space I'm accustomed to, it makes me feel sad to think of families living right on top of each other in little cramped apartments with a tiny bit of green space that all the kids in the community have to share. But the more I think about it, I'm starting to wonder if those people might feel sorry for me. They could come a few blocks down the road, take a look around my neighborhood and think -- "wow, how sad. Look at all those closed garage doors, those kids playing alone on their fancy swing sets (or inside on their video games). Look at those two adults checking their mail at the same time -- they don't speak because they don't even know each other's first names. How sad to live in a community that is really not a community at all."

We could all use a little more of one another and perhaps that would spur us on to make some crazier life choices. We'd love to hear your thoughts on building community and sharing resources. Email us or comment below and pass on some ideas!
Sunday, June 6, 2010

High Dive

Did you ever jump off the high dive as a kid? Were you the kid that decided to jump, climbed the ladder, walked to the end of the board and then chickened out at the last second? Our six year old has been intrigued by the high dive at our neighborhood pool ever since she first saw it. For weeks now, she's been getting up the nerve to jump off. When she finally got the chance she asked us "Is it OK?" which could have been translated in her mind as "Will I live?". After we told her yes, it was OK for her to try, she took a deep breath and started the climb up the ladder.

Watching her do this was actually kind of scary. Besides bringing back that pit-in-the-stomach feeling from when I first tried this stunt, she's only six. And she's little for a six year old. Should she be doing this? What if she slips and falls off and gets hurt? At best, she's probably going to be the kid who chickens out and has to make the Climb Of Shame back down the ladder in front of everyone. And yet, there was just something in her heart that made her want to try it. And we were so proud of her. 

Fear is a funny thing. These days, we're learning a lot about fear. We're learning that letting go of our money and our stuff can be scary. With our hearts we believe God will provide as He promises ("But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory with Christ Jesus," Philippians 4:19) but we've trained our heads to trust in ourselves: our money, our investments, our things that are seen and that we falsely believe we have control of. In taking steps of faith, we feel a little like our daughter and the high dive... we're intrigued, we're at least willing to climb up the ladder and take a look but are we willing to actually jump off??

Besides the fear of letting go of our stuff & money, this "Crazy Adventure" has caused us to suffer from another kind of fear. Just being honest, we do fear looking a little weird. In our cushy American culture, one of the signals we use to let us know something is OK is by watching others - if everyone else is swimming in the pond, there must not be any alligators in it. If all the other Christians I know are doing this, it must be ok, right? It must be safe and safe is good.

One of the things that we have had to come to grips with is the concept of Need versus Want. It turns out that there are a whole host of things that we think we need but really could go our entire lives without and never be that bad off. Actually, we might be better off without many of them. The desire of our hearts is to trust God to provide all our needs. We desire to take Him at His word in Philippians 4:19 and live our lives in a way that demonstrates we believe as much. As we continue to pray and follow His will for our family, we pray that we will have the faith and courage required to let go of anything He asks of us. May we have enough faith not just to climb to the top of the ladder and take a look around, but enough to actually jump off if He requires it. He will never ask us to do anything He does not equip us for.

"Fear not, for I am with you." -- Isaiah 41:10